AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — A year ago, the Detroit Pistons might have let the New York Knicks walk out of the Palace with a comeback victory.
Not this time.
Greg Monroe had 23 points and 18 rebounds, and the Pistons held off the Knicks 98-95 Nov. 5 for their first win of the season.
“I was worried, because we had been up 18 and they had it to two at the end,” Brandon Jennings said. “You can’t help thinking about all the games we let get away last season, but we found a way to get this one done. That means a lot, because we didn’t want to be one of the last teams without a win.”
Detroit’s top four scoring options — Jennings, Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe — shot a combined 28 percent (15 for 53) from the floor. Many of those misses came inside: Detroit went just 17-for-47 in the paint.
But the Pistons (1-3) were saved by a rare display of accurate outside shooting. They went 1 for 17 on 3s in Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn, but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit their first three attempts Wednesday, and Detroit ended up with a season-high 11.
“It was great to see him get off to that great start, because it got us going, and then he hit another big one down the stretch,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We needed that, because I don’t think we could have missed more shots at the rim than we did tonight.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 20 points for the Knicks (2-3), who lost at home to Washington on Nov. 4. They were facing a rested Detroit team that had two days off before the game.
“We played with better effort in the second half, and I know my teammates feel the same way. We have to play like that the whole game,” Hardaway said.
Carmelo Anthony had only 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting for New York.
“I’m not worried if he’s taking good shots, and I thought a lot of them were,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “I think he was trying to do the right thing and not attack too early — that’s part of finding his balance. There will be nights that are better.”
Van Gundy had Drummond, Smith and Monroe in the starting lineup against New York’s big frontcourt. It caused some spacing problems on offense — the trio went 13 for 44 from the floor — but Detroit dominated on the glass.
Smith also kept Anthony in check. The star forward missed his first nine shots and didn’t score until the final minutes of the second quarter.
Jason Smith’s 17 points in the half kept New York in the game, but the Pistons pulled away behind a barrage of 3-pointers in the third, including two straight by Jonas Jerebko to make it 75-59 at the end of the third.
The Knicks rallied in the fourth, thanks to 14 points from Hardaway, and pulled to 94-90 on Anthony’s jumper with 35 seconds left. Monroe hit one of two free throws, and Anthony did the same.
Caldwell-Pope gave the Knicks a last chance when he missed two free throws with 6.5 seconds left, but New York wasn’t able to grab the ball after Iman Shumpert intentionally missed his second shot from the line.